A COMBINATION OF LUCK, HARD WORK AND SKILL PUT BAZEMORE IN SEATTLE FINAL Kent, Washington, August 1, 1999 - Whit Bazemore continued his string of strong performances at this past weekend's Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals in...
A COMBINATION OF LUCK, HARD WORK AND SKILL PUT BAZEMORE IN SEATTLE FINAL
Kent, Washington, August 1, 1999 - Whit Bazemore continued his string of strong performances at this past weekend's Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Washington. After posting the most consistent performance throughout qualifying, including the two quickest passes on Saturday, the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 pilot entered Sunday's final eliminations from the second position. In the opening round, Bazemore admittedly dodged a bullet and advanced when his opponent, Gary Densham, was unable to capitalize on Bazemore's being slowed by an engine failure.
In the next two rounds, however, Bazemore took matters into his own hands. In each contest, he was first off the starting line. Against Frank Pedregon, he recorded his quickest pass of eliminations at 5.062 seconds to gain the victory by over three hundredths of a second. However, in his semi-final encounter against Scotty Cannon, Bazemore needed every bit of his reaction time advantage, as it allowed him to overcome his rival's slightly quicker run to win by one thousandth of a second. This sent Bazemore into his third final round of the season, and second in as many races. Bazemore's opposition would come from Del Worsham, who was seeking to break an eight-year title drought. Unfortunately, the contest was over almost immediately, as Bazemore's mount lost traction and erupted in tire smoke at the start. Although Bazemore regained control, his chance for victory was gone.
"I don't know why we smoked the tires tonight," explained a disappointed Bazemore afterwards. "Two weeks ago in Denver, we have a reasonably good idea why we lost traction in the final, and a lot of it was driver induced. That wasn't the case here. It was just one of those things. But, if you have to lose to anybody, it was good to see Del win a race. He really needed it, but so does this Kendall Camaro team.
"Obviously, we're asking ourselves what it's going to take to win again. Personally, I want t get back on the positive sided in final round appearances as well. In the beginning, I found it pretty easy, winning five of my first seven. Unfortunately, I've been the runner-up in the last five. So we're scratching our heads a little bit. It's frustrating, but part of the game."
But a simple review of the on-track events only tells half of the story from Seattle International Raceway. The veteran Etchells team, led by crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards, worked tirelessly throughout the entire weekend, as they do at every event to ensure their charge would perform at its best. However, at this race their task was made even more difficult by the schizophrenic nature of the racing surface, where the abundant traction of the concrete launching pad gave way to the slippery asphalt on the rest of the track. Tire spin was the rule rather than the exception, with the resultant change in load taxing the already stressed racing motors. Performance came at the cost of damaged engines, with spent "bullets" filling many pit areas. The Etchells team alone used six different powerplants, including four on race day, requiring they complete a grueling engine swap in the allotted ninety minutes between rounds. Although they may have fallen just short of their ultimate goal of winning, the entire Etchells crew could take pride in their accomplishments.
"This is still a good result for us," stated Bazemore. "Our Kendall Camaro was strong all weekend. As long as we are able to go rounds, it's positive. We can't too disappointed being the runner-up. Our main competitor, whom we're chasing for second (Tony Pedregon) lost in the first round, so we were able to make up some ground. That's what it's all about.
"We've got a good, competitive car, and this team is working extremely hard. We went through a lot of parts this weekend. Every round today we changed motors, so I feel for this Etchells team. However, I feel like we are doing more things right than wrong, which is important This team deserves to be in the winner's circle. I feel it's my job to help put us there, and we are going to get the job done soon."
Next weekend, the NHRA moves south to conclude its three-race West Coast swing with the running of the Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California, August 6 - 8.
Funny Car Points Standings (As of 8/1/99): 1. J. Force - 1,324, 2. T.Pedregon - 1,030, 3. Whit Bazemore - 856, 4. D. Skuza - 618, 5. D. Worsham - 601 6. T. Wilkerson - 599, 7. F. Pedregon - 577, 8. C. Pedregon - 574, 9. J. Epler - 496, 10. C. Lee - 491.
Big Bud Shootout Points (As of 8/1/99): 1. J. Force - 3,110, 2. Whit Bazemore - 2,780, 3. T. Pedregon - 2,660, 4. D. Skuza - 2.225, 5. (tie) T. Wilkerson - 2,215, 5. (tie) R. Capps - 2,215, 7. C. Pedregon - 2,205, 8. A. Hofmann - 2,035.